Last week, South African Football Association’s Review Committee hit the social media streets when they informed all who cared to listen about their decision and findings that Kaizer Chiefs’ first goal in their 2-0 Absa Premiership win against Mamelodi Sundowns was legit.
The goal in question radiated mixed reaction across the football world, as some felt it shouldn’t have stood, while others argued that the trajectory of Reeve Frosler’s cross didn’t change after Leonardo Castro attempted a header, resulting in Samir Nurkovic slotting home from close range. The contentious part was whether Castro touched the ball or not, as it was the most important consideration in order to determine whether Nurkovic was offside or not. Watching a number of replays with the naked eye, getting conclusive evidence proved almost impossible. If Castro touched the ball, then it was an offside as Nurkovic would have been in an offside position, but if he didn’t, then the goal rightfully stood!
As usual, Sundowns coach, Pitso Mosimane, was frank about his impression of the first goal as he called it a blatant offside. Having lamented Chiefs’ ‘benefiting’ from the referees’ mistakes, Jingles – as Mosimane is affectionately known – didn’t miss the opportunity to re-emphasize his conspiracy theory that the officials are always swinging the pendulum towards the Naturena-based club. Mosimane’s assertions came as no surprise, in fact, everyone knew what was coming from the moment the referee blew his final whistle.
Mosimane started trending on social media and being labeled as a ‘sore loser’ and a number of memes of him went viral since then, as Mosimane has become a subject of social media banter and a leading material for memes. A few days after the game, SAFA announced, via their official Twitter account, that the Review Committee gave Nurkovic’s goal a thumbs up and that the match officials were right to award the goal to Amakhosi. In essence, pouring cold water on coach Mosimane’s strong belief that it was actually the opposite.
“During the match, when Kaizer Chiefs’ Reeve Frosler played the ball into the opponent’s penalty area, both Chiefs’ Leonardo Castro and Samir Nurkovic were not in an offside position. Sundowns’ Mosa Lebusa and Chiefs’ Castro jumped to head the ball but both missed it,” explained the Committee.
“Castro neither played nor touched the ball from his team-mate, Frosler and this is evidenced by the fact that the ball never changed direction nor the trajectory,” added the Committee.
“Nurkovic was not in an off-side position when the ball was initially played by his team-mate Frosler and that Castro did not make contact with the ball, the Assistant Referee was correct in not flagging for off-side, based on fact connected with Law 11 (Off-side). It then stands (sic) to reason that Nurkovic scored a legitimate goal. It would have been a different decision had his team-mate Castro played or touched the ball, then the goal would have been disallowed in that instance,” concluded the Committee findings.
Anything weird about this statement from our Committee? Yes, of course! Who is the Committee that the comments are attributed to? Don’t they have identity, like when we read about the Absa Premiership Disciplinary Committee’s findings and there will be a comment attributed to their prosecutor, Nande Becker. Why is that not the case with SAFA’s Review Committee? Who sits in this Committee and what expertise do they possess? Was this “finding” a once-off or can we expect more such statements from the Committee?
Instead of putting things into perspective, the statement backfired as many, including yours truly, were surprised that we even had a working Review Committee. Where have they been all along? Did they have to come out to ‘set the record straight’ just because it was Mosimane who had been consistently making noise about the match officials’ mistakes? Is Pitso the first coach to lambast the match officials? Is he paying for something else other than what meets the eye? Is the Review Committee’s main focus Pitso Mosimane? Is the Review Committee’s job to review certain games and not all of them? Are they only reviewing Category A games, which would mean other games aren’t as important even though they’re from the same league? Can we expect the Review Committee to issue a statement on Orlando Pirates’ solitary winner against Highlands Park, when Tshegofatso Mabasa received a pass from an obvious offside position before slotting home? Will the Review Committee come out to say, “Pirates’ goal was not supposed to have stood, the match officials got it wrong,”? Is the Committee going to review Mabasa’s two-footed lunging tackle on Lindokuhle Mbatha? I honestly don’t expect anything to be done about it.
This isn’t an isolated incident as there are plenty more. When Bidvest Wits defender, Zitha Macheke, took Maritzburg United’s Thabiso Kutumela to the cleaners with a career-threatening tackle, nothing came of it and life continued. There are so many illegal tackles that have been dished out and wrong referee calls that we’ve witnessed in recent times, but not even once did we hear anything from our esteemed Review Committee. Once again, is this Committee strictly for A-grade games? Or the so-called small teams don’t really matter when it comes to match officiating, they must just take whatever comes their way? Do the powers-that-be really understand the bad precedent they’ve set with their recent ‘announcement’? Will people be wrong to accuse the Committee of being on a witch-hunt and prioritising certain games over others? You be the judge!